Construction plans are in motion for 11 new light-rail stations along North Tryon Street, and the Charlotte Planning Department wants ideas and comments from area residents on the project.The Blue Line Extension project will begin at the Ninth Street station uptown and snake all the way to UNC Charlotte when its complete. The Blue Line Extension is expected to cost about $1.16 billion, said Judy Dellert-OKeef, a spokeswoman for the project. The planning department is waiting for approval, either this month or in November, of a grant from the Federal Transit Administration that would pay for half the project cost. Theres nothing to indicate we wouldnt receive funding, said Kathy Cornett of the planning department.A combination of state and local money would pay the other half. When and if the federal funding is approved, the planning department expects construction to begin in November 2013. Cornett said the extension should start operating in March 2017.The planning department is hosting community meetings with local residents and businesspeople to discuss plans, answer questions and get feedback. The next two workshops will be Oct. 18 and Nov. 1 at Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church. They will address six of the new stations, between Parkwood Avenue and Tom Hunter Road.About 100 people came to the first meeting Oct. 4 to hear initial information and plans. They also had the chance to make notations on large maps and submit questions to the planning department.Some business owners near the extension came in hopes of discovering how the train might affect their businesses.Its hard to say because everything is so conceptual. There are no details to tell me how my business will be affected, said Chuck Howard, who owns a car wash on Tom Hunter Road. I dont know that (the light rail extension is) necessarily good for business Jayesh Patel, who owns a gas station on North Tryon, said he hadnt decided whether the light rail will be good for his business. He hasnt ridden the Lynx Blue Line, which opened in November 2007 and runs from I-485 at South Boulevard to Seventh Street uptown. Im going to ride the other side and experience it, Patel said.Others said theyre looking forward to more public transportation and prospects of development in North Charlotte.Im very excited, said Brad Dilks, who lives near the proposed Tom Hunter station.He works uptown at Bank of America and said he would ride the light rail to work.I think its going to be very transformative for the corridor, said Dilks. That area hasnt seen growth in decades.Alan Pressley owns six buildings at the corner of Parkwood Avenue and Brevard Street. He said hes considering selling them so they can be better developed and bring business to the area.I think its a great thing for North Charlotte, Pressley said of the extension. Weve been neglected as opposed to the south side of town. With the light rail, I think the city would see some terrific improvements.Mary Newsom, associate director of the Urban Institute at UNC Charlotte, said she thinks the Blue Line Extension will transform north Charlotte.I think potentially it will have an even bigger effect than the south section of the light-rail line, because at the end of it, you have a state university of 26,000 students and roughly 5,000 employees, Newsom said, adding that shes not speaking for the university. I suspect it will be heavily used.
Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012
Be heard in Blue Line discussion
Charlotte planners want ideas, comments on proposal from area residents
Attend the community workshops Workshops about the Blue Line Extension are scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 18 and Nov. 1 at Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church, 101 W. Sugar Creek Road. The workshops will address six proposed light-rail stations, from Parkwood Avenue to Tom Hunter Road.
Ruebens: 704-358-5294; On Twitter: @lruebens
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